Courtesy photo: Riverhead CAP

Under the direction of Riverhead CAP social worker Shannon Kutner, all four K-4 elementary schools in Riverhead Central School District participated in the Great Kindness Challenge January 25-29. Beginning in California, the Great Kindness Challenge is a national and international movement to inspire children to perform random acts of kindness under the premise that when you are kind to others, you pay it forward.

The week kicked off with author Lisa Krekeler visiting all four elementary schools and reading her book, Emily and the Kindness Bracelet, a story about a little girl who passes her kindness bracelet to the first person she observes doing something in service to others. The bracelet is passed from person to person in Emily’s school and community until it eventually comes back to her.

In addition to performing kind acts in their school and community, students from Aquebogue, Phillips Avenue, Riley Avenue and Roanoke Avenue schools and Riverhead Middle School, participated in the Kind Coins for Kenya challenge. Organized by Kids for Peace, the students watched a video featuring a child named Magi who lives in the village of Mikei, Kenya. Inspired by the story, the students began collecting spare change in an effort to help build a school in Magi’s village. The fundraiser concluded this week and in total, the students from our elementary schools and middle school raised $4,635.33!

Jena Binkis Courtesy photo: Riverhead CAP
Jena Binkis Courtesy photo: Riverhead CAP

Jena Binkis, a 4th grader from Aquebogue Elementary School was so motivated by Magi’s story that she initiated her own fundraiser at her church, Living Water Church in Aquebogue. Jena made signs and decorated a collection jar with the hope that she would raise $50. Jena said that she feels “very lucky to have a big school with lots of books” and that she “hopes the kids in Kenya can have the same.” Jena raised $885 by herself.

In addition to the funds raised by this campaign, the students wrote their “wishes” for the students of Mikei on paper bricks that they decorated and hung up in their individual schools, creating a “Wall of Wishes.”

Wishes included, “I hope you like your new school,” “Broken Crayons Still Color,” “All Kids Deserve an Education,” and “I Hope your Teachers are as Nice as Ours.” Riverhead Central School District is fortunate to have such young global thinkers with hometown hearts.

For more information about Riverhead students’ Great Kindness Challenge activities visit

Source: Riverhead CAP press release issued Feb. 11, 2016

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